One of Canada’s largest national parks, Wood Buffalo National Park is located in the Northwest Territories (southern part) and northeastern Alberta, covering a total area of 44,807 km2.
You will be astounded to learn that the Wood Buffalo Park region is the second-largest national park in the world and is larger than Switzerland.
Wood Buffalo National Park: 2 Endangered Animals
Established in 1922 and designated by UNESCO in 1983 to protect the biodiversity of the Peace Athabasca Delta, the largest freshwater delta in the world.
It has been recognized as a World Heritage Site along with the populations of wild bison and the endangered Whooping Crane.
History of Wood Buffalo National Park
From the end of the Ice Age, the area around Wood Buffalo National Park has been occupied by human civilization. Indigenous peoples have been coming here for a very long time, and it was later named the National Park of Canada.
The Slave River, Athabasca River, and Peace River all meet at this park’s location, making it the meeting point of three of Canada’s major rivers.
Indigenous people who live a range of subarctic lifestyles focused on hunting, fishing, and gathering can be found all around Wood Buffalo National Park.
Former Chipewian, Danzer (formerly known as Beaver), Woods Cree, and South Slavie (Dene Tar) tribes all inhabited the region and occasionally engaged in a rivalry for trade and resources.
With the Cree to the south and the Dane-zaa to the northwest, Peace River became the border. According to historical records, the smallpox pandemic hit the area around 1781.
At that time, the two sides agreed to a peace accord and whistled at Peace Point. The River of Peace, which flows through both regions, gets its name from this ritual.
In contrast to the southern regions, agriculture did not develop at all in this region of western Canada.
The Hudson’s Bay Company was acquired by Canada in 1896, and it asserted its ownership of the region. Well into the 20th century, hunting and trapping were significant industries in the area.
Indigenous peoples may be abused in the future despite their objections in order to conserve and preserve the found mineral wealth.
The country then passed into federal hands as “Crownland”.
Origin Of Wood Buffalo National Park
On government lands obtained through the 8th Agreement between Canada and the nearby First Nations in 1922, Wood Buffalo National Park was founded.
More than 5,000 wood bison were imported into the national park between 1925 and 1928, where they interbred with native wood bison, causing TB and brucellosis to spread from herds to livestock.
Since then, officials have made an effort to remedy this harm by eliminating sick animals one by one.
200 disease-free wood bison were discovered in 1957 in Buffalo National Park close to the Nyarling River.
Approximately 300 bison have been relocated to Elk Island National Park’s southern side. He killed and sold nearly 3,000 bison at a unique slaughterhouse named Hay Camp.
Whooping cranes, one of the few free-roaming huge herds in the world, the sole natural nesting site, and the biggest beaver dam in the world may all be found in Wood Buffalo National Park.
It cuts through northern Alberta and continues into the Northwest Territories’ southern region.
The Athabasca Oil Sands is situated just to the north of Wood Buffalo Park. The northeastern part of the park is famous for its karst sinkholes.
The largest dark-sky preserve in the world and the newest in Canada is Wood Buffalo National Park, according to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
The designation offers an opportunity for visitors to witness the incredible northern lights while preserving the evening environment for the park’s significant populations of owls, bats, and night hawks.
The top site on the UNESCO World Heritage List is Wood Buffalo National Park. It requires special protection because of its exceptional relevance on a global scale.
Its remarkable ecological features include the greatest Great Plains-Boreal Prairie habitat in North America, where the coexistence of wolves and wood bison is unaltered.
Large concentrations of migratory species can be found in the inland deltas, gypsum karsts, and salt flats that house the world’s largest herd of critically endangered Whooping Cranes and serve as their breeding sites.
How to Reach Wood Buffalo Park?
Fort Chipewyan and Fort Smith are the two primary gateway communities for the park. Take the Mackenzie Highway from Northern Alberta to Fort Smith, where the park’s administrative offices are located.
Black bears and bison may occasionally lumber over the road; keep an eye out for them.
There are only two ways to get to the park office in Fort Chipewyan: by air or by water. For a few months each year, an ice road connects it to Fort Smith and Fort McMurray.
Commercial planes can be rented from Edmonton, Alberta, and sightseeing flights into the park can also be scheduled.
The Whooping Crane nesting grounds and the Peace Athabasca Delta are protected by Wood Buffalo, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The Ramsar Convention has designated these two sites as Ramsar Sites with the goal of recognizing and safeguarding essential migratory bird habitats. In 1982, it was designated as a natural reserve.
Buffalo National Park is home to wolves, black bears, moose, beavers, foxes, and sandhill cranes, among other elusive species. Cougars, wild horses, and muskoxen have also been spotted inside the park and nearby.
Nonetheless, one shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to observe these timid creatures.
There are lots of moose, black bears, goshawks, snowy owls, marmots, bald eagles, martens, wolverines, peregrine falcons, whooping cranes, snowshoe hares, sandhill cranes, and owls in the park.
1. Endangered Whooping Crane
National Wood Buffalo The park is home to the sole natural nesting location in the entire world for the endangered Whooping Crane.
2. Wood Bison
Buffalo is referred to as bison, sometimes known as wood bison or mountain bison. They consume primarily grasses, sedges, and herbs because they are herbivorous herbivores.
They have a diversified diet because of the year-round fluctuations in food availability brought on by the continual and severe snowfall in their natural habitat.
The bison must use their huge heads and neck muscles to dig for edible morsels since the deep snow layer frequently acts as a barrier between them and their food supply.
The park contains a variety of landscape features, including gypsum karst, salt flats, and boreal forests. The most popular and easily accessible part of the park is Boreal Plains, which is close to the Fort Smith City Headquarters in the Northwest Territories.
During day walks, you can witness salt lakes, sinkholes, salt rivers, and underground streams while passing through woods of jack pine, boreal spruce, and aspen.
The Slave River runs near Fort Smith. The main service provider for the Wood Buffalo tourist center is Fort Smith, a community of 2500 people located on the Slave River in the Northwest Territories close to the Alberta border.
Peter Pond, the first European trader from the North West Company, traveled down the Slave River and engaged with local Native Americans.
Fort Chipewyan, a hamlet on the western banks of Lake Athabasca 250 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, with 852 residents in 2016 and was founded in 1788.
Since there are only temporary ice roads that span two frozen rivers in the winter, the majority of tourists are locals.
Things To Do in Wood Buffalo Park
- Paddle a boat or a canoe.
- Visit the Buffalo River to go fishing.
- From the largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world, you may see the aurora borealis on the icy, dark nights of Arctic winter.
- Exploring the Peace-Athabasca Delta, taking in the Salt Flats, and seeing wildlife
- Cycling in a park
- Enjoy a guided canoe tour of Pine Lake on Saturdays, a guided tour of Grosbeak Lake on Thursdays, and a guided tour of the Salt Plains on Tuesdays.
- In a sinkhole, swim
- Children’s program called Explorer. For themes and venues, get in touch with the park administration.
Best Time To Explore Wood Buffalo National Park
While Pine Lake Campsite is open and between Victoria Day weekend and September Day, it is the ideal time to explore the area.
The temperature ranges from 68°F to 86°F, and there are cultural events like Pine Picnic Table in mid-July and his Paddlefest Flotilla in early August.
Open months for the park are January and February. Winter is typically a wonderful season to visit the location. The next two months are ideal for observing the Northern Lights because they are present.
The range is from -13°F to -22°F. The Fort Chipewyan Winter Ice Trail runs through the park from Fort McMurray to Fort Smith.
How To Synchronize Your Path?
The best method to tour the park is in a reliable automobile. This includes some off-piste runs at Salt Plains Overlook and the Hay River.
Before going to the visitor center in Fort Smith, visitors can start their park exploration. He was used as a fur trade route from the 18th century to the 19th century and served as the administrative hub of the Northwest Territories until 1967.
Mostly Chipewyan, Non-Native, and Métis people make up the city. Before going to Pine Lake, take advantage of one more day of trekking in the Salt River Day Use Area.
Read What Visitors Say
Mid-August was the time that one of the tourists mentioned visiting Wood Buffalo, National Park. The area, which is 44,802 square kilometers, has just one road in order to protect nature and wildlife.
This huge ecosystem of the boreal plains has now attained global relevance and is now considered a piece of humanity’s natural heritage.
This area has long been the main nesting site for the critically endangered whooping crane and the largest remaining herd of free-roaming bison in the world.
On a Frontier Bus van, two authors traveled from Yellowknife to this location. We both witnessed breathtaking northern lights after spending the night on the Hay River before moving on to Fort Smith.
Just before they stopped in New Providence, they found two adult male Wood bison. At the same time, they entered Wood Buffalo National Park and spotted a black bear and another adult wood bison.
We left Fort Smith after nearly three nights there and went to the Wood Buffalo Visitor Center.
You will fly over the large wood buffalo herds, forests, prairies, and deltas that are depicted in the visitor center’s film from Fort Smith to Edmonton, but not the herd of 5,000 wood bison.
The helpful staff advised bravely taking the 4-wheel trail and walking down to the rapids to witness the White Pelicans. The Provincial Museum and the Mission were also frequented.
If you’re in the region, it’s worth the 11 km unpaved, pothole-filled road to the Salt Springs viewpoints and walking route. Even if you don’t want to trek down the flats, the overlook offers a beautiful perspective.
With a 4.5 rating on Trip Advisor, Wood Buffalo Park enjoys a strong reputation among tourists and online users.
As there had been regular rain, which causes the salt to retreat when the earth is moist, the flats weren’t as white or dry as normally expected. Yet, there were some fantastic bison tracks because the area had been damp.
Due to its extensive biodiversity and attractions, which have been highlighted by the world heritage committee and claimed by netzines, Wood Buffalo National Park has been given a special place among national parks.
There are two whooping crane nesting sites in the park, where you can stay and observe the most intimate features of nature and the surrounding area.
You may explore the forest and other wildlife species in this area, but lakes like the Athabasca River and Little Buffalo Rivers are also popular destinations for canoeing.
Enjoy your exploration!